“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”
– Jane Goodall, Primatologist
The world is full of wonder and mystery. Everyday we discover new facts and findings about the universe. These discoveries result in various types of useful knowledge, such as vaccines, sustainable agricultural practices, climate change mitigation, human health guidelines, and much more. There is an unending amount of mystery and magic in our world, but a finite number of scientists.
This is where we all can contribute. Have you ever played I Spy or photographed a cool plant or animal in nature? If so, you are honing amazing skills that science needs. YOU can be a scientist right now. With countless questions in the world, scientists rely on a very important (renewable!) resource: citizen scientists!
Citizen science is when researchers use the general public to aid in data collection. Involving the public in research is far from new, but only recently earned this name and widespread recognition. Scientists are utilizing the power of volunteers! Numerous projects have made fascinating discoveries by relying on brilliant volunteers, without whom many projects would likely still be years away from completion.
As a citizen scientist, you may be asked to do any number of things from locating all the penguins in a photo or playing online games. Some citizen science projects involve walking around your neighborhood and taking photos of local plants and animals, testing water in a nearby stream or recording items you find during a trail cleanup.
Citizen science has resulted in important findings, including discovery of round green “pea” galaxies light years away, observing patterns of migratory and breeding birds, describing the flora of Australia, and monitoring air and water quality in hard-to-reach places. These are just a few examples of its limitless power. The possibilities are endless and scientists rely on people like us to help make amazing discoveries and propel society forward. Everyone can help inform change by becoming a citizen scientist.
Citizen science is extremely important to research. What do we, ordinary people, have to contribute? Time, passion, curiosity, and so much more.
- Watch this video about the power and importance of citizen science.
- Respond to the following prompts:
- What does citizen science mean to you?
- How does it affect climate change data?
- Write three reasons why scientists rely on citizen scientists.
- Share your findings with friends and family, and post on social media, tagging @TurningGreenOrg.
Aiding scientists can be as easy as downloading an app on your phone and taking a few pictures. Many scientists use iNaturalist to locate species they are interested in or determine movement patterns over time. It is also a great resource to learn about what could be living right around the corner from your home.
- Download the iNaturalist app
- Take a walk, snap pictures of the plants, animals or fungi you see, and upload it to the site
- Search to learn about a few species in your area
There are hundreds of citizen science projects that need volunteers. It’s time to find one based on your interests. From water quality to biodiversity, air quality to rare and endangered species, there are plenty of incredible options to choose from.
- Find a citizen science project that speaks to you. Below are helpful sources:
- Choose a project that could benefit from your participation and start planning
- Create a short presentation or poster about the project
- What are the goals of the project?
- Why does it interest you?
- How you will participate?